The Romano Group – an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor specializing in sustainable engineering technologies related to Solar Energy, LED Lighting, Modular Construction and Signage, recently completed the supply and installation of a 150 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system on the roof of Pick n Pay’s new groceries distribution centre in Longmeadow, Johannesburg.
The 150 kilowatt Longmeadow PV system is believed to be the largest completed PV system in South Africa to date and follows on from the 100 kilowatt Pick n Pay on Nichol (Hurlingham, Johannesburg) project that Romano completed in October 2010.
PV is a sustainable, clean energy technology that harnesses the natural energy generated by the sun and, according to Romano’s CEO Alexi Romano, the Longmeadow PV system comprises 690 polycrystalline PV modules (each of 215 watts peak) which, during peak sunshine, generate approximately 150 kilowatts of direct current (DC) power. By means of 10 power-conditioning inverters, the DC power is then converted to alternating current (AC) power which is used immediately inside Pick n Pay’s Longmeadow distribution centre. Pick n Pay’s investment in this particular PV system will result in approximately 6000 fewer tons of carbon being emitted into the earth’s atmosphere over the next 20 or so years. Financially-speaking, the system – which has been designed to last for at least 25 years – will pay for itself in less than 10 years.
Romano notes that Ken Goodenough (of Watson Mattheus Consulting Engineers) was the client’s electrical consultant who played an integral role in the success of the project.
Besides achieving environmental benefits, Romano believes that investing in PV renewable energy systems has other significant benefits. For instance:
PV brings in worthy financial returns due to the saving of the cost of electricity provided by conventional means of supply.
PV requires very little or no maintenance.
PV gives the client independence in the event of power outages.
PV presents the client with “green” marketing opportunities
PV will in future potentially save the client carbon tax.
PV provides the potential to sell carbon credits.
Finally, investing in larger PV systems (1 megawatt or greater) provides the potential to sell renewable energy to the national electricity grid if the client successfully secures an IPP agreement.
Romano adds that South Africa’s climate is ideal for solar energy generation and, compared to the USA and Europe, which have mature PV solar energy generation industries, South Africa has significantly higher levels of solar irradiation (sunshine).
Paarden Eiland, South Africa.
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